How much do nurses get paid?

Nursing can be a challenging career but it’s also rewarding—emotionally and financially. What nurses get paid depends on a few factors: where they are located, how many years of experience they have, and what kind of nurses they are.

General wages

In 2009, the median hourly wage for nurses—more specifically: registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and psychiatric nurses—was $33.00. (That means that half of those employed in this occupation group earned less than this amount and half earned more.) This is significantly higher than the median hourly wage for all occupations, which was $21.00. The overall average hourly wage for nurses was $32.00.

Registered practical nurses get paid significantly less than other nurses. The median hourly wage in 2009 was $23.00, and the average hourly wage was $23.50.

The highest level of pay in nursing is at the head nurse/supervisor level, in which the median hourly wage in 2009 was $34.00, and the average hourly wage was $33.00.

Things to consider:

  • Pay varies by geographical location. Currently, the highest average wages for registered nurses are found in the Hamilton/Niagara/Brantford, Ontario region at $36.65 an hour. The lowest are in Montreal, Quebec, at $27.75 an hour.
  • What nurses get paid also depends on whether they work in hospitals, private or public clinics, psychiatric facilities, schools, or elsewhere.
  • Receiving master’s degrees and specializing in certain areas of healthcare can also significantly increase what nurses get paid.
  • The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions reports that 80% of nurses in Canada belong to unions, which lobby government on behalf of their members to improve pay and working conditions. As a result, nurses have some of the best rates of salary growth in the country. For example, Ontario nurses can expect to start with a salary above $50,000, exceed $60,000 by their 4th or 5th years, and exceed $70,000 by their 7th or 8th year.
  • One reason why nurses are well-paid is that there’s a shortage of them. Many nurses take on much more overtime than people in other professions. So even though the number of hospital nurses making more than $100,000 in 2008 was eight times higher than it was in 2003, these bigger salaries are usually a result of an extraordinary amount of extra work.
Published on January 19, 2012
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